Over the six years that I lived in Los Angeles, I would see celebrities with regularity. Therefore ’star sightings’, as I called them, lost their luster the more they became commonplace, and a regular occurrence in my life. The outcome of such prolonged exposure, was that my involuntary reaction, which began as an excited ‘OMG!’, eventually became a bland ‘cool’, with accompanying shoulder shrug, and my politely going about my business. In spite of this change of attitude, there were exceptions. Those few people that actually give me that gaspy ‘OMG’ feeling where I can barely breathe, are almost always celebrities who have impacted my life in a major way; A few examples of some are Dianne Carol, Samantha Newark (Jem), or Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman). Greg Rucka is undoubtedly amongst this group of people.
I can remember the first time I met him like it was yesterday. It was one of those fanboy moments at a comic book convention over ten years ago. Greg was speaking on a panel an discussing his current run on Wonder Woman. Like a true fan, I was wide eyed and hanging on his every word. Now, I’ve actually had people approach me with the kind of glazed over look I was sporting. You know, the ’omg it’s really you’ happy zombie face? Well, let me tell you, it’s a really peculiar experience. So, you’d think I knew better. But, alas I had donned that same look, yet again, when I saw him later that same day on the convention floor. He paused to look at something, and I noticed this tableau from afar. Naturally I rushed over to stop him and tell him how grateful I was for his work on the Amazing Amazon’s title at the time. When it happened I had this odd dissociative disorder-like experience. It was as if I was Rogue inside my head screaming “NOOOOO!!” as I watched Carol Danvers controlling my body, and doing something stupid. No, I mean REALLY stupid. I swear the perma-grin on my face must have looked like something straight out of a Saturday Night Live parody skit. He politely thanked me for the accolades, and went about his business of gracefully accepting praise from other crazed fans for the rest of the day. Yes, that was the day that the seeds of my intellectual crush on Greg Rucka were planted. Like most things in my life, it began with Wonder Woman.
It’s true, I was introduced to his genius during the his first run on Wonder Woman in 2004. That’s when I learned about his Hiketia of 2002. The more I read his stories about the Amazing Amazon, the more familiar I became with the razor sharpness of his mind. Wonder Woman is an incredibly complex character whom I have been following since I was two; that’s over 40 years. In all of that time (with the exception of Phil Jimenez, George Perez, and few others), I’ve watched DC comics writers attempt to craft her stories and miss the mark. Yet, here is a man who comes along and not only nails the story, but also reveals new aspects and levels to her multi-faceted complex character. Only one word can describe that in my book: Genius! Yes, the 2004 Rucka run is when I think my intellectual crush began. You can imagine how stoked I was when he was returning, and how sad I was to hear of his departure. As are many Wonder Woman fans. But today is a day of gratitude. A day of celebrating the genius that brought her back to us. Therefore, today I’ve decided to give my top 5 reasons why I think Greg Rucka is a brilliant Wonder Woman writer.
1 – He has a clear understanding of who she really is.
Greg is fantastic with character, as are many writers. Character development is the crux of storytellng. Yet, his understanding of Wonder Woman is unlike most that I’ve seen. The balance that he strikes with her, is something that at which I marveled. For instance, during the origin story portion of his run, I would finally think I was getting to know here. It was at that time when I would find a descriptive adjectives to describe her like being slightly naive or trusting, she’d then go and display another quality to counter it like assertion or confidence. Not many people grasp Diana’s near divine ’there is a time and place for everything’ view…But, Greg did.
2 – He is able to approach her from an authentic cultural perspective.
To exemplify, I’m going to harken back to The HIketia. Both his 2004 and 2016-2017 runs were beyond incredible at reanimating the ancient Grecian-Amazonian culture for our current comic book fantasy enjoyment. But there was something about The Hiketia which truly brought a beauty, grace, and power of the Greco-Themysciran culture to the stage in a classically divine way. Rucka breathed life into myth and made it applicable to our world. Then to make things even more dramatic, he utilized said myth to challenge characters in new and unique ways. It was a marvel to watch unfold.
3 – He is able to integrate her into modern times with ease.
Both the 2004 and current run incorporated a modernization of the Gods. Each was different in execution, and unique in concept. What surprised me the most is that even though each one was near polar opposite in their design, they each brought the necessary elements to successfully contribute to the complex mythos and character of Diana.
4 – He has great respect for the source material.
Since Diana was imbued with the complex concepts of her creator, a progressive psychologist, it can be easy to miss the mark when writing her. That never seems to be the case with Rucka. So many times when I’ve heard him speak of Diana, it leads to either a reference to her themes, or her Marstonian roots. There is a clear reverence for the source material and it translates into his written works. One of my closest confidants is also a Wonder Woman fan. I consider him an intellectual scholar and master of Wonder Woman concepts. Wonder Woman #23 was so powerful to both my friend and I, that we were on a phone call with each other, dissecting and marinating on the story imagery, and concepts of the issue for over an hour (and we STILL weren’t finished). One topic to which we kept returning was Greg’s ability to recapture so much of Marston’s Wonder Woman into this modern reimagining. This is no mistake.
5 – He is a modern day Marston.
I follow Rucka on Twitter. I don’t think it’s any secret that he is an intelligent, analytical, articulate, progressive, and outspoken person, who has identified himself as a male feminist of sorts. As a Wonder Woman aficionado, when I look at all of these qualities combined, it brings a light to my face. This combination creates something that I think is magical for the Amazing Amazon; It invokes a sort of ‘spirit’ of Dr. William Moulton Marston in Greg Rucka, and brings us the closest thing to having our source writer back at the helm of the character.
So there are my basic bullet points for why I think Greg Rucka is the perfect man for the job of writing Wonder Woman. I had the opportunity to meet him again in Berkely, CA for the #TeamDiana signing, that included the new artistic creative team of Nicola Scott and Liam Sharp. Prior to the signing, he and the team gave a talk and audience Q&A. During his discussion, he mentioned that Wonder Woman, upon introduction to society in the 40s, was a type of social and psychological propaganda. He then posed the question to the audience (and I’m paraphrasing here), ‘If it’s propaganda, then what does it say?’ As he went down the list and did a brief examination of her love, equality, political, and psychological roots, I felt like we were at a Wonder Woman workshop in character analysis and research. This was probably one of the most profound discussions by a writer I had heard in a long time, and you could see how powerfully it was resonating with the audience.
Cut to the post Q&A signing. There’s me going through the line, and feeling that same Rogue/Danvers feeling come over me like the first time I met Mr. Rucka. As I continued to get closer to him, the feeling got stronger. My face responded in true Loony Tunes Oculama fashion by getting redder and fatter with each moment (Or at least that’s the way I felt). Upon arrival, out of nowhere, like I had turrets syndrome, I blurted out “nice phone case!”. Insert my inner Rogue palm smacking her own face, as Danvers is clearly once again totally out of control. Thankfully, he noticed that we both had the same iPhone case. It was my way of deflating the pressure in the room I was feeling, and hoping he didn’t notice. Surprisingly, our conversation was easy. I had mentioned how gorgeous the story was, and how powerful it was seeing the dramatic cut of Diana meeting the ‘bullets and bracelets’ challenge. He and the other artists signed all of my materials, and I went about my business. How wonderful that entire team is to be around! Anyway, as I collected my things into my bag and met my friend outside, I looked down at the comic he signed. I was too nervous in the moment, and hadn’t read what it said. I looked down to see, “Parry my shot.”…Decade made!
I think that I speak for most Wonder Woman fans when I say: Thank you, Greg from the bottom of our hearts. You’ve brought back someone who is many things to us. To quote, Our peacemaker and warfighter. Our supplicant, aspirant, penitent. Our true friend and boon companion, the trusted soul and truth speaker. For that, we are all eternally grateful.